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Shining The Spotlight On...

by Pam Crooks © Dec 2002

From Leisure author, Winnie Griggs (WHATEVER IT TAKES):

Q. Tell us about yourself. Married? Children? Another career besides writing?
A. As of last month, my college sweetheart and I have been married 27 years. We have four children, two in college and twins who are juniors in high school. My husband raises cattle and crops and has part interest in a small town feed and farm supply store. I, on the other hand, spend my day in an office as an Information Technology Process Development Consultant - which is a long winded way of saying I develop standard processes for my company's computer services group.

Q. Describe your first sale to Leisure/Lovespell.
A. Getting that first sale call is absolutely awesome - a once in a lifetime experience!! I'd been seriously writing for about six years and had nearly completed my third book. The previous year had been one of near misses - winning several contests, getting requests for fulls from editors, getting strong encouragement from my agent - yet nothing had panned out. I was feeling very much a victim of the proverbial 'always a bridesmaid, never a bride' syndrome. The day the call came in, a Friday, I had taken a day of vacation from my 8:00-5:00 job, to clean house, of all things. My oldest daughter was scheduled to graduate from high school that weekend and I was getting ready for an influx of relatives to descend on our household. I believe I actually had a mop in my hand as I answered the phone. At first I didn't understand what my agent was telling me. She had to repeat it twice before it finally sunk in. One of the really neat things about that call was the timing. I was able to tell my parents and sisters in person when they arrived later that day.

Q. Tell how the story idea for WHATEVER IT TAKES came about.
A. Stories come to me in different ways. This one actually started with a title. I was brainstorming titles for my second book, SOMETHING MORE - just making a random list of anything that came to me. COURTING TROUBLE was one of the titles on that list. It didn't really fit that second book, but the title stuck with me. I played around with ideas for storylines that would go with the title, and came up with the idea of a woman who hires a man to court her, but gets much more than she bargained for. Ironically, I eventually discarded COURTING TROUBLE as the title in favor of WHATEVER IT TAKES.

Q. Any previous books with Leisure/Lovespell?
A. Yes, two. WHAT MATTERS MOST was released in Feb 2001 and SOMETHING MORE was released in Nov 2001.

Q. Do you have promos? How can your readers get them?
A. I'll be running contests on my website from now until the end of January. Information on how to enter can be found here. In addition I have signed bookplates, bookmarks and cover flats available. Contact me here for details.

Q. Do you have a website where your readers can learn more about you?

Q. What have you never had the courage to do in your life? In your writing?
A. The first is easy. I'm not exactly the daredevil type, so activities like sky diving, bungee jumping, mountain climbing, deep sea diving, spelunking :) are all on my 'not gonna catch me doing that' list.

As for the second - I can't say that there's anything I've ever wanted to do with a story that I backed away from.

Q. What advice can you give readers on keeping the romance in their lives?
A. No matter how busy your days are and how crowded your household, make sure you make room for 'just the two of us' times with your special someone. Oh, and make sure he never doubts that he IS your special someone.

Q. What person has influenced you the most to embark on a career in writing romances? Why?
A. Hmmmm, that's a tough one. Of course the many great authors whose works I've read over the years have been tremendous inspirations. I guess, though, if I had to identify one person who personally launched me on this course, it would be Jean Porche, my very best friend through middle school and high school. She and I individually started writing stories that starred heroes from our favorite television shows - and were the sole readership for each other :). I still have old notebooks with some of these scribblings

Q. Describe your typical writing day.
A. I don't really have a 'typical' writing day. Since I have a 'day job' and my two youngest (teen twins) are still at home, I sort of fit it in where I can. My favorite, most creative time to write is at night, but since I get up at 5:00 in the morning on workdays, I don't get more than an hour or so those days. I usually do a burst on weekends. I travel out of town one week a month, though, and take advantage of my laptop and all the airport and hotel time to focus on my writing.

Q. What do you do to relax after a long day of writing?
A. Since most of my writing is done late at night, when I'm done it's time to turn out the lights and head for bed.

Q. What advice can you give to a new writer of romance?
A. Be persistent - write every day.

Find other writers to network with - it's incredibly important to have folks to talk to who really understand your dreams and frustrations. Take time to refill the well by reading - both inside and outside the sub genre you write in.

You'll have to make some sacrifices to find the time you need, but make sure you don't sacrifice the really important things, like quality time with your spouse and children.

Q. What warning would you give?
A. First, understand that rejection is a part of the writer's life. Don't take it personally and don't let it make you quit. Second, understand that the feedback and critique you receive (both the positive and the negative) is just one person's opinion. You must understand your voice and believe in the story YOU want to tell, before you jump in and make wholesale changes at someone else's urging.

Q. What does the future hold for you? Your goals and dreams...
A. No matter what, I'll always be a writer. As for goals, in addition to romance, I'd like to someday write books for children. And of course, my ultimate goal as a writer is to write books that people will remember long after they've finished reading them, books that touch the reader in some special way.


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